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Star Wars Dark Side 5k Flashback

Star Wars Rival Run Weekend

Welcome to Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend!

It’s runDisney race week again! This time it’s the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend, and no, I’m not going. I broke up with running, remember? However, since I never shared my race recap, I thought it was high time for a flashback to the only time I’ve ever participated in this weekend. Allow me to take you back to the 2017 Dark Side 5k.

2017 Dark Side 5k

I love these photo opportunities at the expo.

This is one runDisney weekend that was never really on my radar. I don’t know why because I’ve been a fan of Star Wars for as long as I can remember, starting way back with A New Hope. I remember being terrified of Darth Vader as a child. To help calm me down, my parents told me the ones in white are the heroes and always win. The ones in black are the bad guys and always lose. I was confused because, Stormtroopers. They had to explain they were the exception. I wasn’t so sure.

Anyway, back to the race. Flashback to two years ago. At some point before the 5k sold out, it dawned on me that I was going to be there for the 5k and 10k. We had a cruise booked (shocker!) that was leaving the day of the 10k and we had planned on going to Epcot the day before, which was the same day as the 5k. Wait, what?! Hello, lightbulb! I thought long and hard about both races but ultimately settled on the 5k only. We like to get to the port as early as they will let us in the parking garage, and I didn’t want to hold us back.

So, Operation Costume Planning was in full swing. This was one of my favorite costumes ever, and soooooo cheap, too! I was Captain Phasma. It was a Dark Side race after all, back in the day.

Captain Phasma Running Costume

“Flat me” as Captain Phasma

My approach to runDisney race costumes has evolved to become a nod to the character I’m trying to represent as opposed to a dead ringer, so to speak. I already had the Sparkle Skirt from my Hades costume for the final Tower of Terror 10 Miler (can we please take a moment of silence in memory of this awesome event?) as well as the gray tech shirt. I purchased a child’s Captain Phasma costume on the Shop Disney website during one of their Twice Upon A Year sales for super cheap, like $10 or something, essentially free. Disney math, yo! From that, I attached the mask to a Sparkle Athletic visor and used the cape. I also took the belt from the costume and pinned it to the waistline of my skirt. I found out my friend Andrea was also registered, and I shared what I had planned with her so we could be matchy-matchy. I do love when people are matchy-matchy at these events, and I love it even more when I get to be matchy-matchy!

The morning of the race came, and I got up in the middle of the night, as runDisney racers do.

Star Wars 5k Start

Zero dark thirty, the worst part of these races

I was thrilled to see my girl, Captain Phasma as a pre-race photo character.

Captain Phasma at the Dark Side 5k

Me as Captain Phasma with Captain Phasma

I found Andrea, and we collectively became a trio of Phasmas.

A Trio of Captain Phasmas

Andrea and I together with Captain Phasma collectively became a trio of Phasmas.

That line was looooooong, y’all! That was the only pre-race photo I got. That’s ok, though, because I stopped for ALL the photos on course.


The first stop was the Ewoks. I die of the cuteness!

Emperor’s Chair

Up next was the Emperor’s Chair.


R2D2 was next and had the longest line. Also, I have no clue what’s happening here.


Up next was Chewbacca and another long line.

Ezra and Sabine

Next came Ezra and Sabine. I got an oddly placed shadow as a bonus.

Spaceship Earth

Next came a photo opp in front of Spaceship Earth. There was a Photopass Photographer here, otherwise I would have skipped it.


Finally, Stormtroopers. There was no Photopass Photographer here so I was glad I had my phone.

Stopping for ALL the photos means a lot of stop and go, and a really looooooong 5k. I think it took me around 2 hours to finish.

After the race, it was time to get cleaned up and meet my family for a fun day at Epcot.

Epcot Character Spot

Fun with Mickey and family

One of the best things about race weekends is seeing friends you don’t get to see throughout the year. My friend Aimee was in town for the other races, and I met her later for dinner at Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas.

Flying Fish

Pre-dinner drinks at Abracadabar and dinner at Flying Fish was a delicious way to celebrate the day.

Later, we strolled around World Showcase in Epcot tasting a few of the libations from the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.

Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Drinking around World Showcase is always a good idea.

It really was the best day ever, and I think the fact that the race was so impromptu, as impromptu as a runDisney race can be, made it even better.

Star Wars Dark Side 5k Medal

My attempt at an artsy medal photo

As always, I’ll be following along, living vicariously through the participants from the comfort of my couch. I wish the best of luck and lots of fun to everyone making their way to the Galaxy. May the Force be with you!

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2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon Race Report Part 2-The Race

As you may remember in Part 1, the Fairy Godmother had just sent us off with a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo and fireworks.

runDisney's pic of the fireworks, courtesy of runDisney

runDisney’s pic of the fireworks, courtesy of runDisney

I loved the Fairy Godmother.  A couple of the things she said still resonate with me.  She said usually she is Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother but today she is the Fairy Godmother for everyone.  I loved hearing that!  Also, when my corral, D, took off, we were apparently taking too long (taking pics, etc.) and she said something along the lines of, “Corral D, I know you are a fun group, but you’ve got to get out of here!  Go!”  I still laugh when I think of that.

And with that, we were on our way!  The first couple of miles went by really quickly.  It was still dark out and I was focused on finding my groove.  That never happened, by the way.  The course was way too crowded for me to run as fast as I wanted.  There were lots of people running in the grass to get around, but I wasn’t willing to do that.  First, if the grass was at all wet, the moisture could cause blisters.  Second, if the ground was uneven, it could be unsafe.

Somewhere around mile 2, I heard people up ahead cheering.  That got my attention, and I looked to my left to find the lead runner, Rachel Booth, making her way back towards Epcot.  This would have been close to mile 10 for her.  Wow!  That’s fast!  I cheered for her, too, and gawked in awe of her effortless stride.  Her arms moved so fluidly with her legs, reminding me of the gears of a locomotive.  A moment later there was more cheering for the second runner, then the third shortly thereafter.  The third runner cheered back at us, which I thought was really cool.  Not long after all of that excitement, I saw the lights of the Magic Kingdom sign.

The Magic Kingdom sign at day break

The Magic Kingdom sign at day break

This was one of my favorite moments of the race.  I paused to snap this pic since this was likely the only time I would ever get this view of the sign.  It was this moment that I realized how special this race was going to be.

We ran past the raceway and toward the Ticket and Transportation Center.  My original plan was to stop for a potty break in Frontierland (I really wanted a real restroom).  However, when I got to TTC, the line didn’t look that terrible so I got in it.  Looks were deceiving because I think I spent about 10 minutes here.  One tip I had read prior to race day was to use the men’s room if the women’s was backed up.  With only about 1300 men running, theirs would likely have no line.  This didn’t work, though, because there was a Cast Member standing at the men’s door keeping the Princesses out.  Bummer!

After TTC we ran down under the water way that connects Bay Lake to Seven Seas Lagoon.  I’ve always been fascinated by this engineering marvel, that they made a waterway bridge above a roadway.  This part was really cool!  They had all sorts of fun lights and images projected on the wall above the tunnel.  There was even a boat floating by on the waterway up above.  I’ve traveled that waterway so many times, it was really special to be able to run underneath it.  A few moments later, I saw Space Mountain.

Space Mountain from outside Magic Kingdom

Space Mountain from outside Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom was getting so close now!  Then I heard a voice behind me telling me how cute my skirt turned out.  It was Leah Powell, the owner and operator of Sparkle Skirts!  Leah made my Jasmine skirt for the race.  I told her I wish I had time for a pic but I could tell she was moving a bit faster than me.  So I picked up my pace for a few minutes so we could chat.  This was another highlight of the race.

A few minutes later, we turned a corner and entered Magic Kingdom.  If you want to know where we came in, as you are walking down Main Street, just past the group of buildings that houses Tony’s Town Square, look to your right.  There is a fence that has the word, “Bicycles” painted on it.  That fence is actually a gate.  That’s where we ran in.

Running down Main Street

Running down Main Street

So running down Main Street, yep, it’s every bit as cool and emotional as I thought it would be.  Again, I got teary and had to reign myself in.  I immediately starting looking for the parents because I wasn’t sure where the ChEar Zone would be.  I didn’t see them so I found a volunteer and stopped for a pic.

Thanks to a wonderful volunteer for taking this pic!

Thanks to a wonderful volunteer for taking this pic!

We turned right and ran over the bridge into Tomorrowland, circled around into Fantasyland, and there was the backside of the castle.  Again, I found a volunteer to take my pic.

Apparently I really liked this pose that day!

Apparently I really liked this pose that day!

Trumpeteers were on the castle balcony playing for us.

Trumpeteers playing for us

Trumpeteers playing for us

Then it was time to run through the castle, the moment every Princess looks forward to.  Except in this case, there would be no running through the castle for me.  It was more like cow herding through the castle.



I heard later that there was a proposal at the castle exit, which backed things up.  Right as we came out of the castle, there was a group of photographers taking castle pics.  It was one that I wanted so I got in a line.  I also found someone to take a castle pic with my camera, too.

Castle pic with my camera

Castle pic with my camera

As soon as I turned around from that, I spotted my dad.  He yelled at me to get my attention.  My mom was nowhere around so I got a little worried since she has heat exhaustion problems at times.  He said she was fine and was just sitting down somewhere.  I said my goodbyes and took off again towards Frontierland.

Mile 6 in Frontierland

Mile 6 in Frontierland

Just for kicks, I glanced over at the restroom I had planned to stop at, and sure enough, no line.  So my original plan would have been the better one.  I also didn’t see a CM guarding the men’s room like at TTC.

We crossed over the railroad tracks as we were exiting the park and I spotted these guys.

Engineers in front of the train

Engineers in front of the train

I had to stop for a pic!  A short while later, we had reached the halfway point and we were greeted with a fire truck and Alicia Keys “Girl On Fire” blasting at us.  A few days before the race, runDisney asks fans to vote on the halfway song.  This was actually my choice so I was happy with it.  Others, not so much.  We then ran by the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian resorts before getting back out on the main road heading towards Epcot.  Just past mile 10 was the ramp to get onto the road to Epcot.  Many people dread this part as it is described as a big, long, sideways hill.  To me it was no big deal.  I didn’t think the bank was that bad either.  About halfway up, I found this guy yelling at us to get up that hill.

Green Army Man

Green Army Man

I always love seeing the Green Army Men at Hollywood Studios so I stopped for a pic!  About this time, I looked at my watch and realized I had a real chance to PR.  I knew I would have to kick my running up a notch to do it, but I had the strength and energy left to do just that.  So, I tried to kick it into high gear.  Sadly, the course was still very crowded, and there was no one at that point doing much running at all.  I tried to find an open lane to get by but I just couldn’t so I resigned myself to walking only and no PR.  In the future, I really should pay closer attention to who is around me and make sure I stay with or catch back up to the walk-runners that match my pace better.

Before long we were entering Epcot, and I was surprised by how few spectators there were in the park.  It was after park opening so I thought there would be more.  No biggie because we weren’t in the park very long.



Pretty soon we exited, rounded a corner and this lovely group was in sight.

Gospel Choir!  Yes, they were singing Gospel songs.

Gospel Choir! Yes, they were singing Gospel songs.

The gospel choir!  I was so excited to see them!  Not only did it mean I had made it and would finish, it meant the finish line was about to be in sight!  Sure enough, we rounded the corner and there it was!

The finish line!

The finish line!

Mickey and Minnie were standing at the finish and I really wanted a pic.

Prince Mickey!

Prince Mickey!

I kind of wish I had taken a couple more minutes to walk across to the other side and get Minnie but the announcer was yelling at us that we were killing our time by stopping and to go on.  I wanted to yell back that I had already killed my time stopping for the 36 other photos I took along the course, but I didn’t.  I looked up into the ChEar Zone bleachers and found my parents standing up and yelling for me.

Ok, this isn't the photo of them cheering for me, but this is the bleachers they were sitting in.  They are the 2 sitting down.  Photo courtesy of runDisney

Ok, this isn’t the photo of them cheering for me, but this is the bleachers they were sitting in. They are the 2 sitting down. Photo courtesy of runDisney

I collected my medal and made my way to have my official finisher photo taken, which somehow Marathonfoto found a way to lose.  I collected my banana and snack box and then I was standing right back in the same parking lot where it all began earlier that morning.

I went back into the Race Retreat to collect my RR swag, which included flip-flops and a little towel.  They were serving a hot breakfast, which smelled wonderful!  I didn’t take time to eat anything because my parents were waiting for me.  I did, however, take time to use one of my drink tickets to get a mimosa.  Each runner was given two drink tickets as we entered the tent, and at the bar, we could choose from a mimosa, bloody mary, or some hibiscus drink thing.  I gave my other drink ticket away to another runner and exited the tent to find my parents and head back to the resort.

It was a fabulous day!  I enjoyed this race so much!  Even though I finished six minutes slower than I did at St. Jude, I stopped a LOT for pics and I felt great at the finish, and recovery was a breeze!  I guess that means I’m getting better at this running thing.  I’ll do a separate post about things I learned and what I’d do differently in the future.  Keep checking back for that.  If you ran the Princess, what was your favorite moment of the race?

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